Tucson’s First Parklet

tucsonsfirst-parkletWhat is a parklet?

Parklets are a cost-effective urban intervention being utilized in cities throughout the United States including San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, to name a few.  A parklet is created when an under-utilized public space (usually an on-street parking space) is turned into a non-permanent “pocket park”.  Local materials are used to create planters, seating, shade, and other elements that enhance the space, making it a public place for gathering, recreating, and relaxing.

Parklets in other cities have proven to increase property values and drive up revenues for nearby businesses.  Because they are in the public right-of-way, anyone can use them, but local businesses or organizations must commit to maintenance and upkeep of the area, as well as fund their construction.

LSA has been working with the City of Tucson over the past year to develop a Tucson Parklet program based on San Francisco’s highly successful “Pavement to Parks” program, which has seen dozens of parklets installed in the area, with many more currently planned.

More recently, we’ve partnered with a few of our favorite local businesses at the NW corner of 6th Avenue & 7th Street to push for the establishment of Tucson’s first parklet at that location.  Our friends at Exo Roast Co. and Tap & Bottle have committed to making this pilot parklet happen, so that it can serve as an example for businesses throughout Tucson to look to down the road.  We’re helping raise the funds to build it and will help gather the community support and ideas that will go into it.

Here’s what Exo Roast Co’s Amy Smith has to say: “We know that coffee shops and restaurants tend to build a sense of community in a neighborhood .We want to share and extend that community all along 6th Avenue and we know this project can contribute to that.”

And here’s what Rebecca Safford, owner of Tap & Bottle affirms: “Many of our customers walk or bike and the addition of a parklet would meet the demand in our neighborhood for more public outdoor spaces.  I think there is a momentum building on 6th Avenue with new businesses – let’s keep that momentum going!”

Our opinion: this is a win-win-win situation, in that Tucsonans get a great public space; it attracts more business to the area; and it doesn’t cost tax-payers a thing. We hope that this parklet will serve as a pilot to show businesses throughout Tucson how easy, cost-effective, and beneficial it is to create parklets in their area.

Project update:

At the beginning of 2014, we made a major push to establish Tucson’s First Parklet. After a great jump start complete with a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign and lots of media coverage, we ran into some hiccups in the planning process. Namely, we found out that the entire vicinity of that intersection would be torn up in 2015 to do some major underground drainage work.

While it’s been hard to wait, the Parklet team decided that it would be wise to hold off and build a “permanent” parklet rather than try and get something put in place, only to have to it ripped up in a year.

The good news is that it’s given us time to really think through the design concept and work with a fantastic architecture firm: DUST Architects. They’ve done pro-bono work and come up with a great, desert-appropriate concept for the parklet and we’re absolutely thrilled to see it come together.

We’d like to give a huge heart-felt thanks to DUST for all of their hard work.

Here’s their concept…

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SEMILLA micro park[let]

The intent was to initially reclaim a parking space and make it a small, inspiring and beautiful outdoor space for people to gather. This process then incorporated the City of Tucson’s plans for street improvements at the corner of 6th Ave. and 7th St. as part of the Downtown Links project.

The Intent remaining the same, the Semilla (seed) was planted to RECLAIM parts of the new and existing hardscape, by incorporating water collection and reintroduction of soil and desert plants. The idea to reclaim the earth and watershed is based heavily on practices already in use throughout parts of the city and surrounding neighborhoods, through sustainable harvesting of rainwater as irrigation to REGENERATE the biology of the desertscape in the urban environment. This will promote the growth of native, pollinator, and edible plants that support the lives of the desert species that depend on them.

This lays the groundwork and is the essential part of the concept that is SEMILLA micro park. Once Phase 1 is complete, it sets the stage for Phase 2 and the introduction of components that allow for the human interaction and habitation of the space. Steel root structures grow steel grate hexagon lilypads out of the earth, existing as a canopy above the micro life of the catch basin. Steel and wood seating also emerges from the catch basin to provide solitary or communal interaction. These components allow for us to COMMUNE with each other and the micro environment created. A place to CONGREGATE and play during business hours or after hours for a stroll through the neighborhood.

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Help us create Tucson’s first parklet by making a tax-deductible contribution today.

We need to raise $17,000 to make this parklet happen.

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